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ZiS-41: Emergency Tank-Killer
History:When the Germans invaded the USSR in 1941, the Russians were caught completely by surprise. It was soon realized that an imminent need for tanks and armored fighting vehicles was apparent, and directives were sent out left and right to come up with new ways of stopping the speedy German advance. One of these directives was sent out by D.F. Ustinov, the People's Commissar of Armaments. He instructed multiple design bureaus and factories to begin developing inexpensive and easy to build SPGs and SPAAGs as fast as possible in order to halt the Nazi invasion. The directive had a strict deadline of July 15, meaning work had to be done quickly and with parts already in production. Factory Number 92 organized under N.F. Muravyov and V. Grabin to produce a tank destroyer based on the ZiS-22M half-track. This vehicle would become known as the ZiS-41.
The ZiS-22M halftrack used as the base for the ZiS-41, itself a project that did not see much success.
The requirements were drawn up on August 21st, 1941, and work began on a prototype soon after. The vehicle carried the familiar 57mm ZiS-2 cannon and was armored enough to stop shrapnel and small arms fire. 100 rounds were loaded on to the flatbed in crates, and a 7.62mm DT machine gun was to be mounted in the cabin (it should be noted that the prototype did not have the DT mount installed, but it is in the blueprints and would have been fitted had the vehicle gone into serial production). Sources also differ on when trials began. Some indicate they started in November of 1941 and the project ended by 1942, but others firmly indicate that the project continued well into 1942, with trials not even starting until February of that year. With this in mind, trials began sometime between November 1941 and February 1942, and problems were soon noted. Firstly, it was one ton overweight. The requirements indicated a hard limit of 6.5 tons, but the ZiS-41 reached 7.5 tons once it left the factory. The next issue was that of crew comfort, specifically for those in the drivers cabin. Due to the new layout with the armored cover over the cabin and engine compartment, the driver and machine gunner had rather cramped conditions. Their knees were below their chin. It was determined that a change had to be made to allow for crew effectiveness, but this was never done.
Nobody ever said war was comfortable…
The rear bed of the half-track was modified for the gun. A pedestal mount was put in the center, giving it 360 degree traverse. It was also given low railings around the sides to keep ammunition crates (and crew) from sliding off. Because of the way it was mounted, it could be removed and the vehicle used as an artillery tractor. This was its configuration for some of the mobility trials it went through, towing the M-30 122mm howitzer and 30 crates of ammo.
It was referred to as the ZiS-42 in its unarmed tractor form.
It performed decently during these trials, but an issue was noted with engine overheating. The radiator design was unsatisfactory, and this caused problems even in winter. Once firing trials began, several more issues were found. Due to the fact that ammo was stored in crates, the loader had to leave the cover of the gun shield. Additionally, there was serious recoil caused by the high bore axis and narrow vehicle design, leading to extreme movement of the vehicle upon firing, especially at 90 degrees to the sides. Once all these tests were completed, the vehicle was sent back to be modified so testing could resume. But this was never performed. The vehicle travelled around a few different factories, but with the cancellation of the ZiS-41 project, it didn’t have anything to do… Until November of 1942, when the prototype returned to the ZiS factory with a new lease on life: as an SPAAG. With a host of upgrades and a 37mm 61-K AA gun, it became a vehicle every tanker should be familiar with… The ZiS-43.
Description:The ZiS-41 is very similar to its SPAAG counterpart already in-game. It is effectively the same, but instead mounts the 57mm ZiS-2 anti-tank gun. The ammo stowage was 100 rounds in various crates. Armor is very thin, with a maximum thickness of 10mm on the cabin and no more than 10mm for the gun shield (likely closer to 5mm). Being a half-track, it had better cross-country performance than a regular truck, but it still compromised on roads. It used the engine from the ZiS-16 bus and the radiator from the ZiS-101 limo, which proved to be an ineffective design for this vehicle. As this was prior to the modifications done for the ZiS-43, the side vents in the engine compartment had not been cut out yet, so those weak spots remain untouched. If this is added to war thunder, the cabin DT machine gun should be added, as it is what the designers intended to have, but could not due to time constraints for the prototype. It would be similar to the one on the ZiS-30 in that it is not incredibly useful, but better to have than not. The gun, as previously mentioned, can traverse 360 degrees and has a full range of elevation and depression (with an exception made for the cabin). There isn't much else to say on this vehicle. It is a simple design, but an interesting one and it would be a fun addition to War Thunder's lower tiers!
Main Armament: 57mm ZiS-2 anti-tank gun
Secondary Armament: 7.62mm DT machine gun (driver’s cabin)
Armor: 10mm (cabin), 7.5mm (doors, window shutters, radiator), 5-10mm (gun shield, estimated), 10mm (mightiest Stalinwood flatbed and ammo crates)
Ammo Count: 100 57mm shells, ?? 7.62mm rounds (likely around 750, as on the ZiS-30)
Engine: ZiS-16 inline-6 gasoline, 85HP
Transmission: 4-speed manual, 1 reverse gear
Top Speed: 50 km/h (31 mph) on-road, 30 km/h (18 mph) off-road
Gun Movement: 360 degrees traverse, -5 depression, +25 elevation
Sights: Same as on ZiS-30
Crew: 4 (Driver, Machine Gunner, Commander/Gunner, Loader) NOTE: gun crew could be up to 5 according to one source, so the crew total could be as high as 7
If there is anything I have missed or gotten incorrect, please let me know! I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I hope you will also check out my other suggestions! Thanks, and have a great day.
Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles Visual Encyclopedia by Robert Jackson, pg. 156 (ISBN: 978-0-7858-2926-3)